Fendi

Today my colleague Scheherazade Daneshkhu has written a terrific piece about the luxury race to the vertical – the move among the big groups to own not only their own manufacturing and retail, but their suppliers – and lo! what should happened but yet more proof of the trend: Loro Piana has bought a majority stake in the Argentinian alpaca producer Sanin SA. It ain’t just about leather and python anymore: now fibers are in the mix. And I wonder how far it will go?

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Interesting news today that fursales are at “a record high”, especially in the Far East: Korea, China and so on. So does this mean the animal rights folks have lost? They certainly haven’t ceded the cause – they still pop up on occasion in front of a show (Prada, last season) or a store (Burberry), but I think it has proved more complicated than they ever anticipated. Because they aren’t just fighting a basic totem of luxury, and an industry that is increasingly getting out in front of the issue (see the Origin Assured initiative), but the whole problem of seasonality: the end of.

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Getty Images

Diego Della Valle, the chairman of Tod’s, has been making a big ruckus lately about the need for Italian brands to protect Italian heritage – their own (ie their artisans and their skills) and their countries. First, he put his money where his mouth is, funding the restoration of the La Scala opera house to the tune of €2m and pledging to restore the Colosseum for €25m, and then he statred castigating his peers for not following his lead.

Well, now someone has. Yesterday Fendi announced it was going to single-handedly provide the funds to restore Rome’s famous fountains, starting with the Trevi fountain for €2m, and following with unspecified contributions for the nearby Le Quattro Fontane (the four fountains). Designers Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Fendi made the announcement in front of a sketch of the fountain (above). It’s even got a catchy logo: Fendi for Fountains, or FFF, a play on Fendi’s own double F. Chic, no? Fashion to the rescue – what governments cannot do, luxury can. Branded philanthropy. Read more >>

The Missoni family. Getty Images

As the search for Vittorio Missoni’s plane continues, four days after it was originally reported missing, the depth of public identification with – and affection for – the Missoni family is being revealed (pictured from left are founder Ottavio; daughter and designer Angela; founder and Ottavio’s wife, Rosita; son and CEO Vittorio; and son and creative director Luca).

Here, for example, are some of the Twitter posts in response to #findvittoriomissoni, which Vittorio Missoni’s son, Ottavio Jr, posted when the plane disappeared: Read more >>

The annoucement today that Michael Burke, one of LVMH’s longest-serving executives, would become chief executive of Louis Vuitton, LVMH’s biggest brand, was an interesting one. Not because it reflects any Machiavellian planning on the part of the Group — Mr Burke’s predessecor, Jordi Constans, who had joined Vuitton from Danone, was forced to step down for health reasons — but because it’s a very safe decision on the part of LVMH.

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For anyone still chortling over the end of the It bag – the laugh’s on you, if the folks at LVMH (who know their accessories), are to be believed. On the Q3 results conference call today both spokesperson Chris Hollis and CFO Jean-Jacques Guinoy specifically referred to handbags as engines of growth for not one but three—count ‘em! – of their brands. Read more >>

Designers – especially, it seems, Italian designers – are busily embracing all sorts of aesthetic product opportunities beyond the runway. Both Missoni and Versace have teamed up with Century Properties in Manila to create the interiors of new high-rise developments, and Fendi just completed a boat with Princess Yachts. We have trend, people.
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Luxury leaves 2010 on a high note. Most analysts see good things for 2011 – the folks at HSBC, noting the positive performance of watches and jewellery last month, even say: “It is hard to find industries with better fundamental prospects than luxury for 2011.”

Indeed, post-end-of-year auction on December 14, Christie’s reports they had “a record-breaking year for fine and rare watches” with an estimated “$91.2m in total sales – the highest annual total ever achieved for watches.” Meanwhile, Tom Murry, ceo of Calvin Klein, told me they were having a very good Christmas season, and plan to open double-digit stores next year, and Tamara Mellon, chief creative officer of Jimmy Choo, has world domination in mind, and plans to expand into ready-to-wear, watches, and jewellery, after launching mens’ shoes. Read more >>

Be still the beating hearts of luxury analysts everywhere. The rumours turned out to be true, the predictions were fulfilled, and today LVMH announced they had bought 15,016,000 shares of Hermès International, the jewel in the French luxury crown — or 14.2% of the share capital of the company. With intentions to increase their stake. Read more >>